Archive for December, 2011

The Message in the Christmas Tree

December 27, 2011

Well, Christmas is over, but before you take down the Christmas tree, I wanted to share what we can see in the message of the Christmas tree.

The first thing that I notice is the lights.  They shine brightly and can be seen easily, not only by the people in the house, but by people outside, if the shades are open.

Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness.  He is at the heart of the Christmas message.  There are many lights on a Christmas tree because the light of Jesus shines through the lives of Christian people.  We need to open the shades of our lives, and let the light of Christ shine.

The tinsel that is draped all over the tree hangs in vertical lines.  These lines remind me of the prayers of the people of God as they lift their concerns to Him.  They also remind me of the answers that God gives to His people.    The tinsel ascends and descends, like the angels on Jacob’s ladder.

The garland is draped around the tree and is meant to give an appearance of continuity.  I am reminded of the passage of the faith through the ages.  Generation after generation sharing the message and the love of Jesus.

Ornaments of all kinds hang upon the tree.  These ornaments remind me that all good gifts come from God.  Our lives are filled with many people, objects, and events that add beauty and color to our existence.

As I sit on my couch and look at the tree I notice that not all is light and color.  There are patches of darkness that persist even with all the decorations.  This darkness reminds me that life does indeed have it times of testing, trial and tribulation.  There are times of sorrow and times of heaviness of heart.  We do not deny that these times exist, but we trust that God is with us always, even in the days of darkness.

As we look more closely we see not just the decorations, but the tree itself.  It is an evergreen, symbolic of eternal life.  Even as the leaves of an evergreen do not die, even so there is a part of human life that does not die, but is eternal.

Looking to the heart of the tree, we see the trunk, and are reminded that even though we are celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, we must never forget the purpose for which He came.  He came to earth to die upon the cross for the sins of the world.  The trunk reminds us of the wood of the cross upon which Christ died.

Christmas colors are red and green.  This reminds me that the blood of Christ provides eternal life for those who believe in Him.

So, before you take the tree down, take one last look, and remember the message in the Christmas tree.

Out of the Habit

December 26, 2011

It has been a while since I was blogging with any consistency.  I used to blog four days a week.  Then it dropped to three days. Then maybe two.    Life is busy, blogging is not high on the priority list, and so now, blogging has been almost dropped.  I am out of the habit of blogging.

I wonder how many people get out of the habit of practicing Christian disciplines in the same way?  Whether we are talking about prayer, Bible reading, or church attendance:  I wonder how many people allow those practices to slowly slip out of their lives?

The difference is,  the Christian disciplines are important to our spiritual health.  If I never wrote another blog entry, it would probably not matter much in the scheme of things, but if I stopped praying, reading my Bible or attending church, my spiritual health would decline, and my relationship with God would deteriorate.

I encourage you to maintain the habit of daily prayer and Bible reading, and regularly attending church services.  Don’t let yourself get out of the habit.

An Aging Gym Rat

December 8, 2011

Back in the spring of 1973, my friend Tom introduced me to lifting weights.   He showed me a handful of dumbbell exercises and told me that I should do them everyday.  My older brother had an unused weight set, so I set up the dumbbells to a weight that I could handle, and I was underway.

Since that time so many years ago, I have continued to lift weights.  I actually competed for several years in Olympic-style lifting and did reasonably well.  Throughout the years, I have tried a variety of routines and exercises, machines, free-weights, vitamins etc, etc, etc.

I never looked like a weightlifter.  At the peak of my competing years, I told a young lady that I was a weightlifter and she laughed in my face.   Apparently, appearances can be deceiving.

As I have aged there is much less emphasis on pushing hard to achieve maximum performance.  The no-pain/no gain approach has changed to no-pain is good…even a goal to be achieved.

I have also noticed that there are not many seasoned lifters left in the gym.  I look around and all I see is a bunch of people about the age of my children.  Only rarely do I see another person near my age, and it has been years since I saw someone older than myself lifting in the free-weight room.

I still enjoy it and plan to continue for as long as my body holds up.  I may not train as hard, or lift as much, but I still think of myself as a weightlifter.

Even if I look even less like one now.

 

Increasing Godly Love

December 5, 2011

This is a practical follow-up to the message last week on loving God and loving people.

Write out I Corinthians 13:4-7 on a 3 by 5 card and tape it to your bathroom mirror.

Love suffers long and is kind: love does not envy: love does not parade itself, is not puffed up:  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil: does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth: bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  (NKJ)

In the morning read through the verses, then ask God to help you demonstrate godly love throughout the day.  Each time that you are in the bathroom read through the verses.  At the end of the day, read through the verses and ask yourself in what ways you succeeding in showing godly love, and in what ways you failed.

I strongly suspect that we, and those around us, would see an increase in godly love demonstrated in our lives.

The Greatest Commandment

December 1, 2011

These are the sermon notes from this past Sunday.  I encourage you to read the listed scriptures as they are the heart of the message.

I.   Matthew 22:34-40:  The greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love people.

II.  I John 5:1-5:  If we love God we will keep His commandments.  We are able to keep the commandments because of the Spirit that dwells within us.  By the grace of God we are able to change.  We are able to recognize sin, repent of sin, and overcome sin.  This is a lifelong process of growing in godliness.

III.  I Corinthians 13:4-7 :  These verses describe the type of love that we are to have for each other.  As we read through these verses and reflect upon our own life, we will see the areas in which we need to improve.  Again, this change takes place as we grow in our relationship with God.  It is by His Spirit that we are able to love people in the way that God intends for us to love.